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Be nice. Program helping coaches understand mental health

Coaches all around mid-Michigan are trying to practice their mental health awareness.
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:16 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As a sports coach, it’s important to help an athlete’s physical health but understanding their mental health is just as critical.

“Some of the most important stuff that we have to kind of work with in our young people is we want them to be as happy as they can be, we want them to be as confident in themselves as they can be,” Brian Kosloski said, Holt High School’s Men and Women’s Golf Coach.

But to ensure that it takes understanding. Coaches all around mid-Michigan are trying to practice their mental health awareness. After a pandemic, it’s especially crucial.

“If we aren’t aware of that or aren’t paying attention to that, then I think that maybe we’re not doing our job,” Kosloski said.

Mental health is known to have a stigma with it. A coaches role is to help break that barrier. The Michigan High School Athletic Association is helping too, by providing a mental health training program for them called ‘be nice.’

Every coach in the state has to participate each year and it’s something coaches have learned a lot from.

“I spend lots of time just trying to talk to my kids in class asking ‘How are you doing? Is there anything I can do for you? What can I do to help you?’”, Kerry Keyton said, Lansing Everett High School’s Track & Field Coach. “It’s hard because unfortunately a lot of the kids don’t like to talk.”

To try and help with that, the ‘be nice.’ program has a video, quiz, and four steps to use to recognize mental health signs: notice, invite, challenge, and empower.

“Coming to practice late, coming to practice super tired, coming to practice angry, coming to practice stepping on the outskirts of the team and not being there with the team,” Christy Buck said, founder of the ‘be nice.’ Program.

That creates an opportunity for a coach to notice a bigger issue going on behind the scenes, exactly how the program is trying to help these coaches be better at recognizing mental disparities.

“They’re building character and they need that fair shot, so this action plan is that tool to resonate,” Buck said.

‘Be nice.’ doesn’t just apply to athletics. It’s a mental health program implemented in schools all across the state too, including Haslett and Williamston.

If your school is interested in bringing in the ‘be nice.’ program, CLICK HERE.

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